Summary Information

Oakland University Archives and Special Collections
Frederick L. Black papers
Date [inclusive]
5.4 Linear feet 10 Hollinger boxes & 2 flat boxes.

Preferred Citation

Item, folder title, box no., Frederick L. Black Papers, Oakland University Archives and Special Collections

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Biographical note

Frederick L. Black was a close assistant to Henry Ford who asked him in 1920 to investigate the death of John Wilkes Booth. Henry Ford had just been contacted by Finis Bates, author of "The Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth" (1900), with a stranger offer. Bates told Henry Ford he had the mummy of Booth in his home, and was willing to sell it to him. Ford was intrigued but not fooled. Fred Black's 2-year investigation led to the conclusion that the mummy was not the body of Booth, and that Booth had been killed during his capture in 1865. Black was also the editor of the Dearborn Independent and wrote an unpublished manuscript on his findings.

For more information see: Marie C Dye, “Fred L Black, In Memoriam,” New Center News, Nov. 22, 1971, p1

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Scope and Contents

The Frederick L. Black papers contain the documents he collected during his 2-year investigation of the Booth story, including affidavits from witnesses, newspaper clippings, photos and more. The collection also includes Black's personal field notes and an unpublished manuscript narrating the result of his investigation.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Oakland University Archives and Special Collections

Kresge Library
100 Library Drive
Rochester, MI, 48309

Access and Use note

The Frederick L. Black papers are open for research.


Copyright held by Oakland University.


The Frederick L. Black papers were acquired by William Springer, a collector of Lincolniana and friend of Mr. Black. Springer sold his entire collection, including the Black papers, to Oakland University in 1969.


Issues of the Dearnborn Independent have been separated from this collection and cataloged. Photographs and scrapbooks have also been separated.

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Collection Inventory



Black-Springer Transactions   folder 1.

Fred Black Speech Manuscript   folder 2.

Battey, George M. Jr.   folder 3.

Barret, Oliver   folder 4.

Miscellaneous I-III   folders 5-7.

Oaleof, Joseph Benjamin   folder 8.

Rainey, Geo.   folder 9.

Rankin, Henry B.   folder 10.

Reed, J.P.   folder 11.

Reich, A.R.   folder 12.

Ryan, W.H.   folder 13.

Sanford, A.B.   folder 14.

Seyffer, C.J.   folder 15.

Stellwagen, S.A.   folder 16.

Street, O.D.   folder 17.

Sweet, Forrest H.   folder 18.

Starr, John W. Jr.   folder 19.

Tarbell, Ida M.   folder 20.

Townsend, William H.   folder 21.

Twiss, B.A.   folder 22.

Tyner, Paul   folder 23.

Vaughn, Edwin Bates   folder 24.

Vicksburg Herald   folder 25.

Walsmith, A.J.   folder 26.

Warren, Louis A. 

Wilson, Clarance T.   folder 28.

Wilson, Francis   folder 29.

Wilson, Roy J.   folder 30.

Wolfe, J. Brandt   folder 31.

Worley, S.J.   folder 32.

Zachary, James W.   folder 33.

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Notes - Bates Scrapbook 


Notebooks I-V   folders 1-5.

Notebook - "1"   folder 6.

Notebook - "Blank"   folder 7.

Notebook - "NY NHT Hartford"   folder 8.

Bates Scrapbooks I-V   folders 9-13.

Biographical Notes   folder 14.

Pencil Notes   folder 15.

Incomplete   folder 16.

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Lincoln - Neale 


The Pursuit   folder 1.


Playbills   folder 2.


John St. Helen as J. Wilkes Booth   folder 3.


Maryland Independent - Franklin Robey's death Dec. 25, 1896   folder 4.

Hatred Toward Lincoln   folder 5.

Lincoln's Premonitions of Death   folder 6.

How Lincoln Met Death   folder 7.

Memories of Civil War Days   folder 8.

John Surrat   folder 9.

Dr. Mudd   folder 10.

End of the Rebellion   folder 11.

Creech, F. Hunter   folder 12.

Bobbs-Merrill Co.   folder 13.

Collier's   folder 14.

Connolly, J.W.   folder 15.

Cooper, V.F.   folder 16.

Doherty, Charles J.G.   folder 17.

Doran, George H. - company   folder 18.

Doubleday, Page & Co.   folder 19.

Eisenschiml, Otto   folder 20.

Ford Archives   folder 21.

Harper & Brothers   folder 22.

Houghton Mifflin Co.   folder 23.

Kincaid, Robert H.   folder 24.

Leibold, E.G.   folder 25.

Lincoln, Waldo   folder 26.

Malone, Thomas J.   folder 27.

Manuscript - Eisenschiml   folder 28.

Markham, Edwin   folder 29.

McClinton, H.L.   folder 30.

McCarthy, James R.   folder 31.

McMurtie, Douglas C.   folder 32.

Neale, A.W.   folder 33.

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Abduction Plots J.W. Booth 


Multiplicity of Books, A   folder 1.

Booth, Edwin - "Where is my honor now?"   folder 2.

Booth Relatives, The   folder 3.

Mad Booths, The   folder 4.

Book Photostats   folder 5.

John Wilkes Booth   folder 6.

John Y. Beall   folder 7.

F.L. Bates and "The Mummy of J.W. Booth"   folder 8.

April 14th.   folder 9.

Autopsy and Burial   folder 10.

Abduction Plots   folder 11.

BookPhotostates - Impeachment   folder 12.

Book - Excerpts   folder 13.

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Magazine Articles - Clippings - Photostats 


Century Magazine - I & II   folders 1-2

New Yorker   folder 3.

New Voice   folder 4.

North American Review   folder 5.

Overland Monthly   folder 6.

ERA Magazine   folder 7.

Granite Monthly   folder 8.

Harper's Weekly   folder 9.

Harper's Monthly   folder 10.

Indiana Magazine of History   folder 11.

Liberty Magazine   folder 12.

Literary Digest   folder 13.

Magazine of History   folder 14.

McClure's Magazine   folder 15.

Saturday Evening Post   folder 16.

Scribners   folder 17.

Startling Detective Adventures   folder 18.

Time   folder 19.

Unidentified   folder 20.

Week by Week   folder 21.

Incomplete   folder 22.

Miscellaneous   folder 23.


Charm Magazine   folder 1.


Collier's   folder 2.

Cosmopolitan   folder 3.

Mentor Magazine, The   folder 4.

American Historical Review   folder 5.

American Legion   folder 6.

American Magazine   folder 7.

Atlantic Monthly   folder 8.

Booth's Escape Route   folder 9.

Confederate Spy, A   folder 10.

Lincoln Threats - Photostats   folder 11.

Trial Illustrations - Photostats   folder 12.

Washington in Lincoln's Time - Photostats   folder 13.

Newspaper Original - Photostats - Misc. clippings - Vols. I-VI   folders 14-19.

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Booth - Lincoln 


Indentification, The   folder 1.

At the Garrett Barn   folder 2.

Flight, The   folder 3.

David E. George as J.W. Booth   folder 4.

Lincoln's Carelessness   folder 5.

Conspiracy, The   folder 6.

Capture, The - original photostats - vol. I-II   folders 7-8.

Capture, The - positive photostats - vol. III-IV   folders 9-10.

Fate of the Conspirators   folder 11.

Boston Corbett   folder 12.

Ford's Theatre   folder 13.

Gospel Spreads, The   folder 14.

U.S. Grant   folder 15.

Johnson and the Assassination   folder 16.

Wilson D. Kenzie   folder 17.

Copies of Letters   folder 18.

Lincoln - general   folder 19.

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News Clippings 


1920-1930   folder 1.

1930--   folder 2.

Unidentified   folder 3.

Detroit newspapers   folder 4.

Clippings up to 1880   folder 6.

Original photostats - N.Y. Daily Tribune - vol. I-II 1865   folders 6-7.

1890-1900   folder 8.

1880-1890   folder 9.

1910-1920   folder 10.

1900-1910   folder 11.

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Typed Excerpts, Dearborn Independent, Affidavits 


Lincoln - Booth Affidavits & Letters   Binder

Affidavits - negative photostats   folder 1.

Lincoln Scrapbook - typed   folder 2.

Magazine Excerpts - typed   folder 3.

Book Excerpts - typed (a)   folder 4.

Dearborn Independent - mixed extra copies   folder 5.

Affidavits - original   folder 6.

Affidavits - positive photostats   folder 7.

Magazine Excerpts - typed   folder 8.

Affidavits - typed copies   folder 9.

Dearborn Independent - originals   folder 10.

Newspaper Excerpts - typed   folder 11.

Dearborn Independent - original photostats   folder 12.

Dearborn Independent - positive photostats   folder 13.

Book Excerpts - typed (b)   folder 14.

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Manuscript - "Henry Ford and the Corpse of J. Wilkes Booth" by Frederick Black 

Scope and Contents note

Chapters 1-22 of typed manuscript.


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Lincoln Assasination 

Scope and Contents note

Loose leaf scrapbook format of photographs and captions.


Booth Escape Route 

Scope and Contents note

Black and white prints, 3 1/4" x 4 3/4", numbered 1-94.


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